Can employers submit their applications before agreeing to a voluntary separation package (VSEP) with employees? Who is eligible for VSEP?
Yes, employers can submit their applications before agreeing to the VSEP. The eligibility for VSEP will follow the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
How much will Government invest in tourism firms for the re-engagement of employees?
The re-engagement of employees will be at 80.0% of their December 2019 earnings up to NIS’ maximum insurable earnings limit of BDS$4,880.00, for 24 months.
Will the B.E.S.T. Programme cover management and executive salaries?
All persons paying NIS will be eligible under the employee re-engagement programme.
How will approved funds be disbursed under the employment re-engagement programme?
Once the necessary documentation has been submitted and verified and approved, re-engagement funds will be disbursed at the beginning of each the month, up to a maximum of 24 months.
Are NIS non-contributory individuals eligible under the B.E.S.T. Programme?
Employees included in B.E.S.T. Programme must be making national insurance contributions.
If a company chooses not to use the B.E.S.T. Programme and does not pay its employees severance, can staff apply to NIS?
In some cases, an application may be made to the NIS for severance to be paid. NIS will take all steps necessary to recover the amounts from the respective company. The NIS has put in place a new expedited process for fast-tracking claims for persons who are unemployed and wish to apply for severance.
Is there a minimum number of staff that you are expected to re-engage?
Not less than 75% of the staff complement as at December 2019.
Does the current severance liability qualify under the investment aspect of the B.E.S.T. Programme?
Is there a minimum number of days that staff members are to be engaged per week?
Employees who work for 20 hours or less in a week are considered to be on short time and could submit a claim to NIS.
Does “80.0% of their normal pay” referred to in the document include service charge?
Yes, this must include the service charge.
Can Government sell its preference shares?
The preference shares would not be marketable and cannot be sold by the Government of Barbados. However, if conditions warrant and the preference shares are converted into ordinary shares, then the Government of Barbados may sell the ordinary shares at that point.
Can funds obtained under the B.E.S.T. Programme be used to consolidate outstanding statutory and/or third-party debt?
The B.E.S.T. Programme will not provide funds for a company to pay statutory and/or third-party debt. If outstanding statutory (NIS, BRA, etc.) debt exists at the time of approval/application, a company will be required to provide evidence that satisfactory arrangements have been made to settle the outstanding liability within 6 months of the application/approval.
If the preference shares are redeemed within the first 2 years, is coupon interest payable?
No, for the first 2 years the B.E.S.T. preference shares carry a 0.0% coupon.
Will the Government pay the company’s legal transaction costs under the B.E.S.T. Programme?
No, but the Government will provide standard agreements that can be utilised to aid the process and reduce the company’s legal burden. Notwithstanding, the Government would advise companies to retain legal advice as required.
Will pre-existing/ongoing projects be accepted under the Programme?
The B.E.S.T. Programme could fund new investments in an already initiated project if it is deemed acceptable but not any recovery or replacement of an existing investment.
How will approved funds be disbursed for investment projects.
Once the necessary documentation has been submitted and verified, investment funds will be disbursed in accordance with the project requirements. As far as possible suppliers and other third-party providers will be paid directly.
What is the limit for investment under the Green and Digitization Investment Plan?
There is an initial limit of BDS$2.0 million per property, with a maximum of two such investment plans per single owner/group.
Will the submission of financial statements be required?
Yes, applying companies will be required to submit financial statements for the past 3 years. Thereafter, approved applicants will be required to submit financial statements annually. Companies will be given time to have the statements prepared.
Is there a deadline for the submission of applications to the B.E.S.T. Programme?
There is no deadline, but the availability of investment funds and matching grants is not unlimited, so early application is advisable.
Can an employee not working at a company at December 2019 be eligible under that company’s employee re-engagement programme?
This will be allowed only to the extent that the new employee is replacing an employee who has been voluntarily separated due to COVID 19 defined preconditions.
Are travel agencies eligible for inclusion in the BEST programme?
They are not since their revenues are earned primarily from locals and not from inbound tourists.
Are State Owned Enterprises eligible for inclusion in the BEST programme?
No, unless the Oversight Committee makes an specific exception.